Counselling in a Nutshell


Windy Dryden

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    I decided to edit the ‘Counselling in a Nutshell’ series because I saw the need for short, accessible texts on the main counselling approaches for people at the very beginning of their counselling careers. Since most people beginning counsellor training are exposed to person-centred counselling, psychodynamic counselling or cognitive-behaviour therapy, the texts in this series cover these approaches.

    However, I also wanted to write a text that was broadly relevant to the practice of counselling, but was not specifically allied to any one approach. This book draws heavily on what is known as ‘working alliance theory’ based on the work of Ed Bordin (1979). From this perspective, counselling can be looked at as comprising a number of important domains: bonds, goals, tasks and views. What happens between counsellors and clients in these domains has a crucial impact on the effectiveness of counselling no matter what approach to counselling is practised by the counsellors. As such, I see this volume as being a companion to the other volumes in the series. While counselling can and does occur in different arenas (i.e. individual counselling, group counselling, couple counselling and group counselling), I will focus exclusively on individual counselling in this book.

    In this second edition, I have made the following changes:

    • While I have retained the essence of the general focus of the first edition, I have endeavoured to be more even handed towards person-centred counselling and psychodynamic counselling in my coverage. To this end, I interviewed Roger Casemore (author of Person-centred Counselling in a Nutshell) and Susan Howard (author of Psychodynamic Counselling in a Nutshell) and have incorporated their views at salient points in the text. My thanks to them for their time and input.
    • I have included greater discussion of the influence of the context in which counselling takes place on the work of counsellors.
    • I have included five discussion issues at the end of each chapter that are designed to stimulate your thinking on the subject and to encourage exploration with your colleagues.
    WindyDrydenLondon and Eastbourne
  • A Final Note

    My aim in writing this book was to take a general view of counselling in a nutshell and one that is not specifically aligned with any specific approach to counselling. I have tried to be fair-minded, but since I am influenced most by CBT in my work, I recognise that this bias is present. I do not apologise for this. Counselling is a personal process and thus if I withheld my personal views completely it would have the effect of depersonalising the book. Therefore, as you read and hopefully re-read this book, I would encourage you to identify my personal biases, engage with them, reflect on them and if by doing so they encourage you to be clearer about your own views of counselling in a nutshell, then one of the goals that I had in writing this book would have been achieved.

    Appendix 11


    11 Anywhere House, Anywhere Street, London SE7 OET

    Tel: 020 8852 5453. Fax: 020 8852 2071.

    Email: Website:

    Client Information Sheet

    MSc in Counselling, Diploma in Cognitive-Behavioural Counselling.


    BACP Senior Registered Practitioner and BABCP Accredited Cognitive-Behavioural Psychotherapist.


    I have experience of working in a variety of private, local authority, voluntary, public and medical sectors.

    Codes of Ethics

    I abide by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) codes of ethics.


    Payment by an individual (cash or cheque) is made at the end of each session. Organisations are invoiced on a monthly basis or at the end of a given contract period. Fees are subject to VAT and annual review and non-payment of fees may result in legal action being taken.

    Cancellation Policy

    A full 24 hours' notice is required for cancelled appointments otherwise the full fee is payable.


    Good practice requires regular supervision of cases as this ensures that standards are maintained in both counselling and coaching.

    Confidentiality and Access to Case Notes

    The trust between client and practitioner is crucial to the success of the process and we treat all information disclosed as confidential. Any details a supervisor receives are also treated as confidential and I do not disclose client details to a third party without the client's permission. However, if in my opinion a client is a danger to him/herself or to others I reserve the right to inform appropriate agencies. It is my practice, wherever possible, to inform the client first. I keep brief notes following each session that you are entitled to see if you so wish.


    All prospective clients are offered an Assessment Interview. This provides both parties with an opportunity to consider whether they wish to work together. It is just as important that you feel comfortable with your therapist, as it is that he or she feels able to work with you. At the end of the first session we would arrange to meet for an agreed number of sessions.

    There is no obligation to attend all the sessions arranged and you are free to terminate your appointments at any time. A review session takes place at the end of the agreed number of sessions where we jointly assess progress and what further action, if any, may be needed. If we decide not to work together we try to provide you with details of alternative practitioners or agencies.

    Sessions usually last for one hour and if you are late arriving we still terminate at the usual time so as not to delay the next person. I leave 15 minutes between sessions to allow those people wishing to remain anonymous the opportunity of doing so. I see clients during the day as well as in the evening, and special appointments can be arranged for the weekend.


    There are times when I may not be available for various reasons. To allow messages to get through I have a confidential voicemail service that we encourage clients to use. If I need to make contact with you we simply leave our name and telephone number should you be unavailable.

    How Can Therapy Help Me?

    A therapist is someone who will help you move forward with your life, helping you in practical ways to design an action plan that will give you the greatest chance of reaching your goal. In addition a therapist aims to help you gain a perspective about whatever is troubling you. Together we identify what might be stopping you from reaching your full potential and what action you need to take to change your situation.

    Therapists look beyond presenting problems to possible underlying causes. The aim of therapy is to help you change your behaviour to that which is more productive for you. The process helps you move towards becoming the kind of person you want to be by attaining the types of outcomes you desire both personally and professionally.

    My Approach

    There are many different models of coaching and counselling to choose from. I do not believe there is one model that helps everyone, as each person is an individual and what might suit one person may not necessarily suit another. However, I believe in using interactive forms of intervention as reflected in the training of Associates. I aim to be sensitive to the cultural and ethnic origins of individuals and to people's religious beliefs and sexual orientation. I operate our practice along the lines normally associated with an equal opportunities employer.

    How to Find Me

    By Train: Just 12 minutes from Central London. Trains leave Charing Cross, Victoria, Waterloo East and London Bridge towards Bexleyheath/Dartford – usually at least four trains an hour. Our offices are about a 10–15 minute walk from Blackheath Station. There is a minicab company at the side of the station and the cost is approximately £3.00.

    By car: The A2, A20 and South Circular Road for quick and easy access.

    By bus: Numbers 54, 89, 108, 202, N53 and N108 all stop in Anywhere Street.

    Parking: There are parking bays available in Streetfield Mews.

    Issues for You to Consider

    Here is a list of topics or questions you may wish to raise when attending your initial interview:

    • Check your practitioner has the relevant qualifications and experience.
    • Check the approach the practitioner uses, and how it relates to your problem.
    • Check that the practitioner is in Supervision (a professional requirement).
    • Check that the practitioner is a member of a professional body and abides by a code of ethics.
    • Discuss your expectations of Life Coaching, Counselling or Psychotherapy and the goals you want to achieve.
    • Ask about fees and discuss the frequency and estimated duration of sessions.
    • Arrange regular review sessions with your practitioner to evaluate your progress.
    • Do not be coerced into a long-term contract unless you are satisfied that it is necessary and beneficial to you.

    If you do not have a chance to discuss the above points during your first session, discuss them at the next possible opportunity.

    General Issues
    • Practitioner self-disclosure can be useful. However, if sessions are dominated by the practitioner discussing his/her own problems at length, raise this in the session.
    • If you feel uncomfortable, undermined or manipulated at any time within the session, discuss this with the practitioner. It is easier to resolve issues as and when they arise.
    • It is unethical for a practitioner to engage in sexual activity with current clients and research has shown it is not beneficial for clients to have sexual contact with their practitioner.
    • Do not accept gifts from your practitioner. This does not apply to relevant therapeutic material.
    • Do not accept social invitations from your practitioner. However, this does not apply to relevant assignments such as being accompanied into a situation to help you overcome a phobia.
    • If your practitioner proposes a change in venue without good reason (e.g. from a centre to the person's home) do not agree.
    • If you have any doubts about the treatment you are receiving, discuss them with your practitioner. If you are still uncertain, seek advice and/or terminate your work.
    • You have the right to terminate your work at any time you wish.

    (Adapted from Palmer and Szymanska, 1994.)

    1 In this appendix, I present one counsellor's way of providing clients with information about the approach to counselling being offered, the practicalities of counselling, the limits to absolute confidentiality and other relevant information.


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